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The Steelers are heading to MetLife Stadium to try to get back to their winning ways against the Jets this Sunday. Despite the myriad injuries they have faced this season the Steelers are an 8-6 team. A lot of this is due to their impressive defense, which has become one of the best in the league since they acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick early in the season. They lead the league in takeaways and sacks and are a huge force to be reckoned with. Darnold has flipped a switch in the second half of the season and has been playing very well, having thrown 11 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions since week 10. Despite Darnold’s better play I’m still expecting the Steelers to take this game, as I don’t think the Jets will be able to get much done against the Steelers defense. Click here for more details and betting information on the Steelers @ Jets matchup.
Date: Sunday, December 22, 2019
Time: 10:00 AM PST
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Steelers: Vance McDonald (Q), JuJu Smith-Schuster (Q)
Jets: Tom Compton (Q), Jamal Adams (Q), Quinnen Williams (Q), Demaryius Thomas (Q), Arthur Maulet (Q), Bilal Powell (Q), Brian Poole (Q)
Devlin Hodges had a rough game in their loss to the Bills on Sunday night. He threw 23-38 for one touchdown and four interceptions, netting him a rating of 43.9 points. Obviously, it’s going to be hard to win games when your quarterback is throwing four interceptions, so I’m expecting them to rely more on the run game in this matchup. Thankfully, James Conner is back and should make their run game a lot more reliable. Conner had 8 carries for 42 yards, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. He also had 4 receptions for 9 yards and a touchdown. Considering he only got 8 carries I think the Steelers were trying to ease him back into it, but now that he’s proven fresh and effective, I think he’ll be seeing a lot more use against the Jets. The Jets allow the 2nd fewest rushing yards per game and it’ll still be tough to run it against them, so the Steelers might throw more than would be expected despite Hodges performance against the Bills, but I’m still expecting the Steelers to lean into the run. I’m expecting this to be a low scoring game for both sides.
The Steelers defense has been their moneymaker this season. They lead the league in both takeaways and sacks. The last time this was done was when the Steelers did it in 1974, so clearly this defense is something special. The catalyst for their defense was the acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick, which bodes especially well considering the experience he had against Darnold when he played for the Dolphins last year. The Jets have been looking relatively better throwing the ball lately, and Le’Veon Bell had his best game of the season last week, so the Steelers aren’t in for the easiest game. I think they’ll still be able to contain the Jets well enough to outscore them in this matchup.
Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart
The Jets have been looking better on offense as of late. Since week 10, Darnold has thrown 11 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, one of the best ratios in the league. This is especially impressive compared to his 6 touchdown 9 interception ratio in his first 5 games. The Jets also had a very impressive stretch in weeks 10-12 where they won 3 straight, putting up 34 points in each game. Le’Veon Bell had his best game of the season last week against the Ravens with 87 yards off of 21 carries, an average 4.1 yards per carry. Plus, he might be especially hyped up for this game considering it is against his old team and therefore a bit of a “revenge game” considering the circumstances under which he left. Intangibles like this can sometimes make a big difference in a player’s performance; we all saw how Nick Bosa did against Baker Mayfield and the Browns. However, the Jets offense is not perfect nor is it very predictable. They came off of their 3-game winning streak of 34 points per game into a matchup with the Bengals and lost 6-22. I think they’re going to have trouble putting points up against this tough Steelers defense on Sunday. Relying on Le’Veon Bell might be their best bet as the Steelers have been weaker against the run than the pass this season, but they’re still a good rush defense so points will be few and far between.
The Jets defense is going to allow them to stay in this game. They’ve been great against the run, allowing only 88.8 rushing yards per average every game, the 2nd fewest in the league. The Steelers offense has been lacking, and with Devlin Hodges coming off of a four-interception game I’m expecting the Steelers to try to run the ball a lot, which works out well for the Jets. The Jets haven’t been great against the pass so they’ll have to be careful, as Hodges is still an effective quarterback despite one bad game. Overall, this is going to be a tough, defensive matchup. I think the Steelers will take this one but if the Jets can get Hodges to have a game similar to his last performance and shut down the run, they could easily take it.
New York Jets Depth Chart
Honestly, I don’t see very many fantasy prospects in this game. I’m expecting a low scoring, defensive matchup, so the might prospects might actually be the two defenses. Both the Steelers and the Jets defenses have been pretty effective in fantasy this season and if you’re looking for a defense you might want to consider one of these. The Steelers have been relying a lot on James Washington and Diontae Johnson as receivers lately, and they’re both widely available on waivers, with Washington right over 30% owned and Johnson at 12%. Washington posted a 5-83-0 line and Johnson posted a 5-62-0 line, so they’re both pretty effective receivers. JuJu might be coming back which would likely highly effect the production of one or both of these receivers, so keep an eye on the injury report as the week progresses if you’re planning on picking up one of these players.